A 16-year-old student from Truro has conquered Mount Everest and now has even bigger challenges in her sight.
Justine Pellew-Harvey, from Kea, has just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime expedition to Everest Base Camp, and is already preparing to tackle America’s highest mountain in just six months’ time.
It’s all part of her plan to conquer the seven summits before the age of 20, in order to become the youngest person to have scaled the Seven Summits, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents.
To reach Everest Base Camp the Truro High sixth former traversed the three passes of Renjo La, Cho La and Kongma La, all of which are in excess of 6,000 meters above sea level.
Over a period of three weeks, Justine and her guide pushed themselves to the limit in what was the ultimate test of strength, stamina and self-sufficiency.
The trek began with a nerve-wracking flight from the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu to Lukla, renowned as the world’s most dangerous airport. Dodging mountains in a tiny plane and landing on a 50m runway at 3,000m proved a real test of mettle for the 16-year-old.
After spending three days acclimatising to the altitude, Justine headed out with her guide for the first pass at 5,200m. She then tackled the next pass at 5,300m and descended down a 37km glacier, before making the arduous climb to Everest Base Camp.
Every day she met trekkers from across the world who joined forces on their various different routes, all with Everest firmly in their sights. Challenges included coping with low oxygen levels at 5,000m, traversing a glacier without crampons and sleeping with temperatures as low as -25c.
Justine said: “It was amazing, the best three weeks of my life by far. Nobody tells you how hard it is – we weren’t quite prepared for how challenging it would be but we coped.
“Aside from the trek itself, the poverty and pollution in Kathmandu was really shocking. The whole experience has made me so grateful for the most basic things: heat, Wi-Fi, toilets. I can’t wait for the next trip.”
Spurred on by the adventure, Justine is already busy planning her next expedition, which will see her tackle America’s highest mountain, Denali (Mount McKinley), in six months’ time.
This year Justine was named the Lord Lieutenant’s Army Cadet of 2018, and she continues to go from strength to strength in the Army Cadets Force as she drives towards her ultimate goal of training at Sandhurst to work in military intelligence.
Last month, Justine beat 300 male and female competitors of all ages in the 10K Royal Marines Commando Challenge.